Falun Gong defies the government… the city council of Wellington, New Zealand, that is.

Tum-mo and your mind/body:

In a monastery in northern India, Tibetan monks sat quietly in a room, deep in meditation. Although the room was a chilly 39˚ F, the men – using a yoga technique known as Tum-mo – were scarcely clothed, but seemed unaffected by the cold. Nearby, other monks soaked large sheets in freezing cold water and placed them on the shoulders of the meditators. Within an hour, the sheets were dry.

Scientists who have studied the monks – some of whom were capable of raising the temperature of their fingers and toes by 17˚ F – have yet to determine how the meditative process was able to generate so much heat. But they agree about one thing – the mind can manipulate the body in to doing quite unexpected things. Can we train it to better control our bodies when they are cold, injured or under stress?

Herbert Benson, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Boston believes so. He has developed a “relaxation response” which he describes as “a physiological opposite to stress”. It can produce changes in metabolism; breathing rate, heart rate and thermoregulation, and Benson’s team have used it to treat anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heartbeat irregularities, excessive anger, insomnia and even fertility problems. “I want to investigate what advanced forms of meditation can do to help the mind control physical processes once thought to be uncontrollable”, he says.

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